Despite Zambia being a vast country relative to its population currently estimated at about 17 million with land area of 752,614 sq. km of which 11,890 sq. km is water area, there are indications that this scenario of seemingly having excess available land will soon be overtaken by a massive deficit, especially for the local and rural folks.
Zambia’s international boundary is 5,664 km long and experiences cross-border encroachments, especially where no physical marks exist. There are boarder places today that have no clear markings and subject to legend on were exactly the boarder line lies.
Land is a factor of production, the most basic source of wealth of nations. It is the basis for the survival of all life forms, human, and all the other living processes. The way that society allocates land for human and other uses determines the character, quality and pace of human development.
In Zambia, there are two land tenure categories, state and customary land tenure. As the minister of Lands and natural resources Jean kapata, released the newly revised land policy which has tackled some of the issues surrounding the land sector In the country, ZBT analysts have combed through the policy and below are the ten key things you should know that the policy seeks to address:
1. International Boundaries: the revised Land Policy seeks to ensure that boundaries are clearly marked in order to minimise border disputes. This is proposed to be achieved by maintaining and monitoring the extent of boundaries at all times to avoid any form of cross border encroachments; Establishing and maintaining international boundaries on land and shared water bodies monitor, and regularly maintain boundary infrastructures.
2. Internal Boundaries: Prepare and update internal boundaries in order to promote national identity, fiscal, electoral administration and good governance frameworks by Up-dating and making available all maps, narrative descriptions and ancillary data for clear physical interpretation of administrative boundaries; clearly delineate and clarify jurisdictions of natural conservation areas, forests and national parks, Game Management Areas – GMAs and other protected areas; Clearly delineate provincial, district and chiefdom boundaries in order to clarify boundary positions; and maintaining and monitoring internal boundary infrastructures.
3. Regulate Non-Zambian access to Land: To regulate access to land by non-Zambians with a view to providing for access and use rights on land to non-Zambians while restricting ownership of land, both state and customary to Zambians only, Introduce and implement limitations/ceilings on the amount of land allocated for use by a single foreign investor; limit land tenor for foreign companies and non Zambian to a period not exceeding of 25years.
4. Mainstream Gender, Youths, Persons with disabilities to Land acquisition: To achieve a gender sensitive, and a youth friendly land sector which is inclusive of persons living with disabilities and other socially marginalised groups. This will be achieved by implementing a 50 per cent land ownership for women; Develop mechanisms to enhance access to land and land administration services by persons with disabilities and Lower the contractual age for land acquisition from 21 to 18 years to enable more youths to enjoy rights to land and succession.
5. Urban Settlements Rationalization : To harmonise local land allocation policies and draw up plans for major urban expansions to provide land for housing in large tracts with plot layouts and trunk services (major roads and primary water supply and sanitation services) provided ahead of demand. This will be achieved by Developing and enforcing regulations that will ensure that mandatory minimum requirements are met before land is allocated for different uses.
6. Introduce Rural Settlements Planning : To guide the identification of most suitable areas for location of various activities in rural areas in order to provide for orderly provision of essential services. This will be achieved by Strengthening rural settlements to enhance their economies and accommodate additional population through provision of public services and the enforcement of planning standards in rural as well as customary land areas.
6. Regulate Unplanned Settlements: To regulate with a view to eliminating the growth of unplanned areas through timely provision of shelter or serviced building plots. This will be done through local authorities who will be required to raise funds for planning and surveying through such schemes as plot development revolving funds, cost recovery and cost sharing methods and self- financing for planning and surveying. To decentralize land allocation services as close to the people as possible to improve service delivery.
7. Resettlement Land Provision: Enhance collaboration with Chiefs and Government to continually avail adequate land for resettlement purposes in all districts of the country. This will be achieved through government Support to the Resettlement Programme as a way of modernizing rural areas and for empowering women, youth and other vulnerable groups. The policy will require enhanced collaboration with traditional leaders and other landowners to continually avail adequate land for resettlement purposes in various parts of the country and that land held under Resettlement Schemes have certificates of title.
8. Agricultural Land: To improve smallholder access to secure ownership of agriculture land by the government facilitating the provision of agricultural land infrastructures to all parts of the country with secure land rights and protection of common property resources.
9. Mining Land: To ensure that mining developers adopt principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent of local people for decisions that may affect them. This will regulate mine developers and ensure communities conclude agreements that recognise the land rights of local communities.
10. Establish a Land Agency: Establish a monitoring and evaluation framework for policy implementation, outlining information or data collection requirements, analysis, benchmarks and verifiable indicators of performance. The monitoring and evaluation system will track outcomes from the policy implementation and detect slippages for corrective measures where necessary.
Land rights and Land itself is what the concept of Zambia depends on. It’s the protection of international land rights that allows Zambia to exist today. At an individual or personal level, one gets a national registration card and passport based on the fact that they belong to and have rights to live within the international boundaries of Zambia. So this matter of Land Policy is so strategic and deserves attention from the most talented, most exposed and most strategic of the citizens of Zambia.
We are aware as ZBT that most of our citizens generally delights in debates at length on mostly social matters, but this land policy review needs to get our top minds in both legal, financial, economic, cultural and other endeavors to get involved and help shape a better and more strategic land policy and land rights regime that will make Zambia enjoy an equitable future that takes care of the common and strategic collective interests of our citizens.